Mexico has a rich and vibrant culture. Think colorful clothes, spicy and flavorful food, engaging fiestas, energetic music, fascinating murals, and Frida Kahlo–that’s Mexico.
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Every country in the world has unique aspects that define it, but Mexico is captivating. So, what are the top 10 Mexican traditions of this dynamic Central American country? Let’s explore some of the customers of this beautiful Latin American country.
1. Mexican Independence Day and the Grito
Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. It is the most important annual celebration on the Mexican calendar. On this day in 1821, it gained its independence from Spain.
Mexicans perform a rousing ceremony on the eve of the holiday, the Grito, to commemorate the Shout of Dolores in 1810. This event ignited the Mexican War for Independence and it is celebrated with fireworks, the ringing of bells, dancing, and music.
Watch this video of Independence Day celebrations and the Grito in Mexico
Parades in all major cities mark the holiday, and traditional foods abound. For example, stuffed chilis, known as Chiles en Nogada, and Pozole (white corn soup) are favorite dishes.
2. Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5 and represents the spirit of Mexican pride against all odds. While not recognized as a public holiday, it is a memorable historic date, and one of the best known of these top 10 Mexican traditions. It’s a heck of a party! Whether you are a partier or not, you will love this tradition. It is an amazing time for everyone!
In 1862, the Mexican army defeated the Napoleonic French army at the Battle of Puebla, despite being outnumbered three-to-one; thus, asserting their independence.
Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become more of a cultural holiday. Mexicans come together to celebrate their culture with an abundance of food, drink, music, and dancing.
This holiday is one Mexican holiday that has traversed borders, too. Cinco de Mayo is now embraced in the United States, and not just by Mexican-Americans. This holiday focuses on the victory of self-determination and pride in one’s culture.
Watch this video on the origins of Cinco de Mayo
3. Mexican Christmas
Wouldn’t we all love a Mexican Christmas? I’m sure we would, as it lasts a whole month! It is not in the least bit surprising since most Mexican traditions are centered on the Church, and it is a staunchly Catholic nation.
Mexican Christmas isn’t just on December 24 and 25 but starts from December 16 until January 6.
From December 16 to 24, Mexicans celebrate the Posadas—nightly festivities symbolizing Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. These gatherings involve prayers, nativity plays, eating and drinking, and the breaking of the Piñata.
At the end of the extended Christmas period on January 6, Mexicans celebrate Three Kings Day, commemorating the occasion where the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.
4. Mexican New Year Rituals
New Year is traditionally a family celebration, spent with loved ones to usher in a new year abounding in hope. Mexicans take it one step further, however, by incorporating time-honored rituals. These have a religious connotation and ignite hope for better days to come.
Coin in Their Shoes
Mexicans place a coin in their shoes to attract prosperity, for example, and banish bad energy from their houses by sweeping toward the outside of their homes. People put lentils on their doors as symbols of abundance and turn on the lights in the evening to symbolize prosperity.
The men and women both wear red underwear to attract love and passion in the coming year. They also eat twelve grapes during the New Year countdown, one for every wish they’ve invoked. These lovely traditions cement Mexicans in their beliefs and a shared vision for better days in the New Year.
5. The Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a curious two-day tradition, but a famous and touching one to remember deceased loved ones. November 1 commemorates the passing away of young children and November 2 is set aside for older family members and family friends.
It is not a morbid experience. On the contrary, these days are to show love for the deceased, and the celebrations are full of color, candlelight, and cheer. Family tombs are filled with flowers, food offerings, photos of the deceased, and gifts.
A sweet bread, pan de Muerto, is eaten in remembrance.
Have a look at these Day of the Dead Celebrations
6. The Veracruz Carnival
This carnival is one of the top 10 Mexican traditions and is widely known as the “happiest carnival in the world.” It lasts for nine days and takes place near the Veracruz pier. Wear your best costumes and masks so you can party in the vibrant and rhythmic parades.
Visit Veracruz for this world-famous Carnival that takes place from February to March every year.
Guelaguetza originated amongst the Oaxaca community, as a barter festival. Today, it has evolved into a platform for Mexican culture, with dance and music highlighting a mix of Mexican traditions. Watch amazing traditional dances, sample fantastic native foods, and listen to authentic music from all parts of Mexico.
8. Mexican Murals
Colorful murals define Mexican culture. Everywhere you go, you’ll find them standing tall and majestic in their splendor, whether in museums or on the streets.
Mexican muralism began in the 1920s and is making a huge comeback. The art had powerful political and social connotations, centered on the Mexican identity and nationalism; with the pre-history originating from the Olmec peoples. This (literally) larger-than-life artwork influenced famous Mexican artists like the renowned Frida Kahlo.
Watch more on Frida Kahlo here
Mexicans have a unique tradition of throwing a sweet quinceañera party for a child’s 15th birthday, much like the “sweet sixteen” parties in America. The party involves Catholic traditions and princess-style gowns, leading to some glamorous parties, indeed. In all instances, it’s an incredible party.
You will be expected to sing another version of “Happy Birthday” called “Las Mañanitas” at the celebration, so be sure to learn the words before you go. Have the time of your life belting out this birthday song.
10. Mexican Food – Corn, Avocado, Lime, and Chilis!
The culinary heritage of Mexico is flavorful and rich! Modern Mexican food originates from Native Indian, African, and Spanish overtones. It has become a culinary powerhouse worldwide and everyone loves it!
Staple foods include corn, beans, chilis, tomatoes, pork, cacti, avocados, and a variety of squashes. Mexicans also love their food spicy. They add chilis and lime to everything, including tortilla chips, potato chips, roast meat, soups, fruit, and even dessert.
Salivate over some Mexican street food in this colorful video
What is Unique in Mexican Culture?
Mexico has a rich and diverse culture that is unique in many ways. One of the most distinctive features of Mexican culture is its fusion of indigenous and European influences. This can be seen in the country’s art, music, cuisine, and language. Mexican cuisine, for example, is known for its bold flavors and use of traditional ingredients like corn, beans, and chili peppers. Mexican music is also unique, with a blend of indigenous and European musical styles.
Another important aspect of Mexican culture is its strong sense of community and family. Family is highly valued in Mexican culture, and many traditions and celebrations revolve around it. Finally, Mexican culture is known for its vibrant and colorful festivals and celebrations, such as Dia de los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo, which showcase the country’s rich history and traditions.
Mexican Christmas Traditions
Mexican Christmas traditions are a unique blend of indigenous and European customs, and they are celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy throughout the country. The Christmas season in Mexico runs from December 12 to January 6, with one final celebration on February 2. One of the most beloved Christmas traditions in Mexico is Los Posadas, which symbolizes the Biblical story of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem. Beginning on December 16th, Posadas, or nightly holiday celebrations, take place throughout Mexico. The Posadas involve a procession of people carrying candles and singing traditional songs as they reenact Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay. At the end of each night’s procession, there is a party with traditional food and drink, including ponche, a warm fruit punch made with cinnamon and other spices.
Another important part of Mexican Christmas traditions is the Nativity scene, or nacimiento, which is set up in homes and churches throughout the country. The nacimiento typically includes not only the Holy Family, but also a variety of animals, shepherds, and other figures, as well as a representation of the town of Bethlehem. In addition to Los Posadas, Mexicans also celebrate Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, with a large family meal that often includes tamales, bacalao (salt cod), and ponche. At midnight, many people attend Misa de Gallo, or Rooster’s Mass, which is a traditional Christmas Eve service. Overall, Mexican Christmas traditions are a colorful and joyous celebration of the holiday season that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage.
Perhaps, Mexico’s most significant tradition is its hospitality toward outsiders. Embrace these top 10 Mexican traditions, and Mexico will embrace you. From food to clothes, to dances, fiestas, and fairs, immerse yourself in a culture full of flavor, rhythm, and color. Have the time of your life while celebrating these wonderful traditions.